Water- Essence of life
Two thirds of the earth and two-thirds of our body is water. That is not the coincidence but just one more example of Microcosm-macrocosm theory of Ayurveda.
It is also one of the five elements of universe (Space, Ether, Water, Fire and Earth). Air, water, food and shelter- in this order are bare necessities of our lives. It is necessary for nutrition and to maintain life; without it, our individual cells or our body could not survive.
Manifestation of water element in our body
Qualities of water- Water is fluid in state, heavier than other elements of nature, moist, cooling, dense, and cohesive. It brings molecules together. Water provides the medium for most of the chemical reactions happening within our body.
Water exists in the body as plasma, cytoplasm, serum, saliva, nasal secretion, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, mucous, digestive secretions and sweat.
Water is the basis of our sense of taste. Without the medium of water in the form of saliva we won’t experience any tastes. No wonder the saying goes- “my mouth is watering”
Dosha impact- It cools and balances Pitta dosha, supports Kapha, and counteracts the dryness of Vata
It regulates the temperature of our body and thus helps to maintain the homeostasis of the body.
Emotionally, water is responsible for contentment, calmness, love, cohesive thinking and compassion.
Water imbalance in our body
Accumulation of water slows the digestive system, causes oedema, creates mental and physical sluggishness, dampens the appetite and causes congestion in the body(especially nasal sinuses, intestines and chest region).
Habitual dehydration leads to loss of moisture, dryness, wrinkles in our skin and hair. It causes constipation, fatigue, malabsorption of nutrients, muscle laxity, irritability and general depressive thoughts.
Practical aspects of drinking water
Choosing tap water, bottled water, RO water, alkaline water, hydrogen water is a personal choice for everyone based on their own belief system. Important thing to remember is that it should be free from contaminants . Simplest, cheapest and environment friendly way to ensure it is drinking boiled water. Additionally, Ayurveda recommends the following for drinking water-
- Drink two to three glasses of warm water or water at room temperature in the morning on empty stomach. This helps to clean the mucous membrane that lines our gastro-intestinal pathway, flushes out the toxins and creates lightness in abdomen.
- Aim to sip about a 3/4 cup of water every hour. This mindful practice is helpful to stay sufficiently hydrated during the day.
- It is best to sit down and sip water rather than gulping down the water.
- Water taken in excess fetters digestion and dilutes nutrients. Therefore frequent intake of water in small quantities is recommended.
- Drinking water just before meals or immediately after meals is usually not recommended. This is universally recommended because of the effect of water on the digestive fire. Drinking large quantities of water before meals dampens the digestive fire and slows down the process of digestion. Drinking large quantity of water after the meals leads to heaviness and sluggishness of the digestive system thus hindering the process of absorption.
- However, drinking 200-300 ml (1-2 cups) warm water or herbal teas is recommended with meals. Because sipping small quantity of water during meals, acts as the medium for digestive fire to blend with food easily, thus making digestion easy, It also cleanses throat, stimulates secretion of saliva and easier movement of food down the oesophagus. In long run this prevents disorders such as acid reflux, nausea, bloating, constipation, etc.
So, let your water hydrate you, nourish you and spark the invigoration within you.